top of page

Notes on a Day at the Lake (Crater Lake NP)

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Discovery Point: We arose early at our campsite and drove back to Rim Village, only to discover we needn't have rushed. Nothing opens here until 9:00 or 9:30, so instead we set off for a morning hike along the rim to Discovery Point.

At one point I saw a flash of red on a rock jutting over the edge. Looking closer, I made my discovery: a person stirring in a sleeping bag in an impromptu (re. unauthorized) 'campsite'.

At the point, I noticed a family of five milling about near an overlook. An ~15-year-old boy groused, "Oh, come on. I just wanted to stop to take a drink of water. Do we have to have another family picture?"

The inside scoop: Workers at the trolley-ticket office explained to me why the boats aren't running. "When they closed down after the 2019 season, some of the boats were not in good working condition. No tours were offered the last two years, due to Covid. Now they're having trouble finding boat captains to lead the tours, and they've only just hired a boat mechanic to get them up and running. But we all hope that they do offer tours before the season's over."

Hmmm... Here's an idea. On the park website, instead of the uninformative text of "we hope to begin offering reservations in July or early August", why not say, "We're having trouble finding boat captains. Interested? Click here to apply!"

Bicyclists: As we started on the downhill slope to the Phantom Ship Overlook, we caught up to a gaggle of five cyclists cruising down the hill. Before they really got going, we passed four of them; the other one we clocked at nearly 50 mph. (Was I going that fast yesterday? Hmmm...). We followed the leader into the overlook parking and chatted with him and his friends. They hailed from Texas, celebrating their first time in the park. The four guys all went full-macho with their bikes, while the woman said using her e-bike "was an equalizer."

Plaikni Falls: Overheard: The park guide touted the falls as an easy, entertaining hike, so we bit. Its one-mile length featured a gradual rise (moderate in the last hundred yards or so) through a forest. Ron and I slowed the pace down, practicing a bit of forest-bathing: examining the surrounding, checking out flowers,

feeling the moss. At the top, we stopped to soak in the placed scene - a small waterfall and cascade burbling through a meadow.

On the way back, I saw a patient mother tending her toddler as he made his own discoveries: "Oooh, look, another shiny rock!"

Pinnacles: Not the one I'll visit in 12 days! In another display of the wonders of vulcanism, lava poured down this valley, cooled in columns, then surrounding material washed away. This half-mile trail showcases the remaining spires - an easy trail that claims an elevation gain of 10' (yes, only ten feet).

When we reached the end, I noticed a couple sitting on a bench. I was ready to go over and tell them, "I see you're here for my calisthenics class! Good, let's start with some jumping jacks," but they left before I could do so.

Cloudcap Overlook: Ron had not taken this spur to the highest point on Rim Road yesterday (and I certainly did not add that mile), so we stopped in. As always, more great views.

Cleetwood Cove: Finally, the cove. This 2.2-mile trail drops steeply to the lake's edge. When boat tours run, they leave from here. Despite the lack of boats, throngs of people congregated here, headed down see the lake up close - and to play in the cold water. Ron balked at tackling the steep hike, choosing instead to spend the time sketching.

I bid him farewell and work my way down the nine switchbacks to the water.

The scenery amazed me, with a different feel the closer I got to the bottom.

Thinking ahead, I resisted snapping many photos, reasoning that I could use 'because photography!' as an excuse to stop and rest on the climb out.

The atmosphere - the energy - of the lake changed when I hit the water's edge. The crystal-blue from above turned into a shade of emerald=green at the shoreline. Groups of people populated the rocks, some lounging, others entereing the water. I followed the trail aroudn a point to the end, where it ended 20' above the water on a rocky ledge. As I stood there, looking at people who had clambered over the rocks to the side to reach the water, a girl walked onto the rock next to me. Next thing I knew, she jumped off into the air - with a large 'splash' rising from the hidden below seconds later.

When a boy stepped onto the same rock a minute later, I was ready with my camera:

I wandered back around the point to where the majority of people congregated.

Determined to see how cold this lake really is. I worked my way over a boulder mere feet to the water.

After fulfilling a request by a group of East Indians to take their picture as they shivered in the lake, I took off my boots and dipped my legs up to my knees in the blueness. Cold ... but it felt no colder than Lake Michigan when I visited Indiana Dunes last month. Not as cold as I expected.

One couple on the shore stood on the dock, looking at the water and daring each other. Eventually they each jumped in with screams of cold delight. The man soon hauled himself back on the dock and proceeded to do push-ups.

After several minutes soaking in the atmosphere, I dragged myself back up the trail. Here's the two short switchbacks - call 'em quickbacks - followed by the long switchback, then the lo-o-o-ong one. Here come my stops for the gotta-have photos (being winded was not a consideration) - or pausing to take another bite of my apple (can't walk and bite at the same time!). As I took a breath at the next-to-last quickback, I saw someone jogging up the path. It's they guy I saw doing pushups! When he stopped just beyond me to wait for his girlfriend, I admonished him, "Don't stop now! You're on a roll!" He laughed.

Watchman Overlook: This popular spot (with a restroom!) stands at the closest point to Wizard Island. It almost looks like you could slide down the steep slopes and take a quick swim over to its shores. Interpretive signs there talk about the important relationship between the distinctive white-bark pine trees and the Clark's nutcrackers. which rely on each other in this tough environment to survive.

That covered our day at the lake. However, we had one more stop to make:

Rogue River Gorge: No, it's not in the park, but it lies between the park and our camp. The Rogue River, fed from streams coming down from Mt. Mazama (today's Crater Lake), rushes through a tight gorge. The NFS maintains a paved path that parallels the gorge, offer views inside. Well worth a stop.

35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page